It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon as we drove to the neighborhood I was raised. While it is only fifteen minutes from the apartment we now live I refer to it as the old neighborhood. Despite “never leaving home” so much has changed.
The hobby shop I bought arts and crafts for school projects is now a hair salon, the candy store on the corner is a pizza place, the movie theater a 99 cents store and the florist an apartment house.
As we arrived at the six family building I lived in it feels like just yesterday I was playing hopscotch, riding my banana bike with the sparkly purple seat and roller skating with Maria downstairs and Renate next door. I think of the disappointment Renate’s mother would be feeling if she could see the stained steps of the stoop she scrubbed clean and the front door her husband kept painted now chipped and falling off the hinge.
I celebrated my second birthday in the second floor right apartment which I now refer to as the scene of where the story of my life began. I always loved to read and write and thought for a moment as I stared at the steps of the stoop what if I had used my skills differently and joined the school paper; would my life have turned out different? Thoughts of my daughter versus mother battles over the silliest things had me thinking how wasted my sharp tongue was and could have been better used had I joined the debate club. I smile as I glance over at Kevin and think what if I had said no to our mutual friend Maryann when she showed me the picture of the cute guy she wanted me to meet? The choices made through the journey down the steps of the stoop created the beginning of my story.
Our last stop was the Carvel ice cream shop and at last the old neighborhood returned. I stood at the counter which looks exactly as it did when I was ten and it felt like just yesterday I was licking vanilla cones with chocolate sprinkles with Maria and Renate. I smile at the memory of our stained shirts, sticky hands and sprinkles on our faces. Our only worries were planning the next fun thing to do.
Kevin said I looked a bit silly as I ordered my medium size vanilla cone with chocolate sprinkles. The young man behind the counter warned it was quite large and my response of “I CAN HANDLE IT” came out far too excited than perhaps should at 56. I knew the smaller cone was a mature choice but I did not want to act grown up. The young man was not lying as he handed me the cone piled high with the ice cream. It was 93 degrees outside as we left the shop and I once again held a melting cone which landed on my shirt, and with sticky hands and sprinkles on my face I smiled and asked Kevin what fun thing we should do next? He laughed as he put napkins on my lap in the car with the answer of we are headed home to clean you up!
I have heard it said that youth is wasted on the young but I disagree. Young people know how to have fun. Back in the just yesterday days I would never had declined the offer to go for an ice cream cone with the response I am too busy. Young people drop whatever they are doing to have fun whenever possible. Maybe adults need to use the wisdom learned with age but still find time to recapture just yesterday moments.
There have been many changes but I appreciate all the things I have accomplished. I have said many time I am not an author or a famous person but always find myself drawn to either writing or telling a story. I think it is good I am not afraid to share the just yesterday memories and find great joy in doing so. My schedule is filled with volunteering, socializing with friends, exercising, constantly looking for new experiences and even returning to work. I smile as I hear the cute guy rattling around in our kitchen and thank goodness for all the just yesterday choices I made.
I realize looking back on my past chapters that I have been guided through life and each day is a small glimpse of the larger story left to be written.
Whether we want them to or not we must accept life changes. The goal moving forward for me is to do my best to enjoy every step of my third chapter. Tomorrow at the age of 56 I am beginning a new job; I plan on continuing to share my stories, to remain laughing and keep learning new things as I go through each day I am priviledged to live. With any change I am sure there will be tears and sadness mixed in but as I learned just yesterday these are all lessons of life.
I cannot wait until my next Carvel visit because I am ordering the large vanilla cone with extra chocolate sprinkles and am going to change it to make it more fun as I add on rainbow sprinkles too. Oh how colorful my sticky hands and face will look as I return home from future visits to the old neighborhood.
So much changes but every now and then we find things that remain the same as they were just yesterday.
Editor’s Note: Visit AFL member Donna Ryan at her website: http://www.50plusstickingtogether.com/. She says, “I have always thrived on inspiration. I love reading it everywhere I can find it. I am 55 and it has been a journey with many twists and turns. I invite all 50+ women to join me in discussions on this second chapter. Our road ahead is fun and exciting because these truly are the best days of our lives.”